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Caps look to ride Southeast dominance all the way to playoffs

Apr 11, 2013, 4:55 PM EDT

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 7: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals celebrates scoring teams second goal in the second period during a NHL hockey game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on April 7, 2013 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Washington Capitals have made a stirring comeback from their dreadful start to move into third in the Eastern Conference.

And they know exactly how they got there.

The Caps have dined out on the Southeast Division opponents this year, going 12-3-0. The only teams to achieve similar in-division success are Pittsburgh (12-5-0 vs. the Atlantic) and Chicago (13-0-1 vs. the Central).

“It’s been our saving grace this year,” Braden Holtby told the Washington Post. “It’s been lucky that we’ve got to play those teams so much, but at the same time, we’ve done a good job with them and we haven’t taken a lot of those games lightly because we know how important they are.”

Washington is 2-1 against Tampa Bay this year, 3-1 against Carolina and Winnipeg and a perfect 4-0 against Florida, outscoring the Panthers by a whopping 22-9 margin.

(Queue the “more like South-LEAST division” jokes.)

To their credit, the Caps aren’t denying the fact they’re benefiting from playing in a weak division.

They’re sticking to the usual utterances teams in these situations offer: We didn’t make the schedule. You can only beat the teams you face. We’re not focused on who we beat, but rather how we play.

Just ask forward Matt Hendricks.

“Our division hasn’t been that solid this year. We can’t argue that,” Hendricks said. “But for the most part we tried not to be too focused on the outside, more looking at our games, our video clips, focusing on the ways we could get better and start climbing the ladder.”

The Caps have eight games remaining in the season, including tonight’s contest against — you guessed it — another in-division rival, the Carolina Hurricanes.

After that, Washington has two more Southeast matchups left (Saturday vs. Tampa Bay; Tuesday Apr. 23 vs. Winnipeg) and will play both at the friendly confines of the Verizon Center.

  1. rsl22 - Apr 11, 2013 at 4:59 PM

    Also, about 48 hours ago, the Caps beat the Habs. And they beat them without Laich, Ward, and Erat. Gotta count for something.

    • esracerx46 - Apr 11, 2013 at 6:42 PM

      Yep. 2 points.

      • jpelle82 - Apr 12, 2013 at 9:14 AM

        congrats, thats a whopping 6 pts out of 20 possible against the NE division so far this year.

      • blackfoot11 - Apr 12, 2013 at 9:37 AM

        The Caps are 5-5 against the NE this year. They have tallied 10 of their 46 pts so far from these teams with 5 games remaining. All 5 are against playoff teams. Another test lies ahead.

      • jpelle82 - Apr 12, 2013 at 10:16 AM

        lol…my bad i forgot buffalo… 3-0 against the 3rd worst team in the east. i meant 6 pts against playoff teams all year

      • blackfoot11 - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:33 PM

        No problem, I have to keep you honest. lol.

  2. c1md6 - Apr 11, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    Caps will win the cup, and don’t need the refs to protect our star like the crybaby penguins and their princess. Pens peaked and caps getting hot at the right time you lizards!

    • ravenscaps48 - Apr 11, 2013 at 5:19 PM

      I’ll be in St. Petersburg, Russia when they do it…. And I’ll be punching myself for not being here for it

    • steeltownpride87 - Apr 11, 2013 at 8:48 PM

      The Caps can hardly spell cup lol . Why dis the Pens ? Cause the Caps have NEVER beat those past peaked Pens in the playoffs ? Come see us when you win a round or two and dont Ochokin out .

      • blackfoot11 - Apr 11, 2013 at 10:38 PM

        If you arent worried about the Caps. Why are you posting? Nobody is dissing the Pens. My fellow fan as confident in our Caps as you are with your Pens.

      • steeltownpride87 - Apr 12, 2013 at 6:05 AM

        I think the Pens arent even near their full potential . Winning all these games without Crosby Letang Martin and Neal . This team will be deadly when the last 3 injured players get back and knock the rust off . Never worried about the Caps . Living in DC i know the Caps fans think the Pens are their biggest rival .

      • blackfoot11 - Apr 12, 2013 at 9:28 AM

        The Pens are a rival that goes back to the old Patrick division that is reuniting next season. The rivalry flared up again when Sid and Ovi came and the teams began playing memoriable regular season and playoff games.

      • live4hockey - Apr 12, 2013 at 5:16 PM

        Nobody is dissing the Pens blackfoot? I will give you a pass, because you clearly didn’t read what c1md6 posted.

    • phlyerzpwnu - Apr 11, 2013 at 11:23 PM

      You do realize you have Ribeiro on your team right? He makes Crosby look like a manly man with all his crying…hell they basically named the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty regarding chirping at the refs after him…
      http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/capitals-watch/2013/jan/22/mike-ribeiro-sounds-about-nhl-referees/

  3. capsrockva - Apr 11, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    Let’s go Caps CAPS CAPS

  4. 19to77 - Apr 11, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    And yet some Caps fans (not all, fair enough) still insist the Southeast isn’t blatantly weaker and easier to win than the rest. The highest-ranking team in the division is 13th overall, and three of the remaining four are ranked 26th OR WORSE.

    • phillyphanatic77 - Apr 11, 2013 at 5:54 PM

      Southeast is a joke. The Flyers would be 3rd in that division right now, with an outside shot at capturing the lead. That should tell you all you need to know about the Southeast race.

      • blackfoot11 - Apr 11, 2013 at 10:32 PM

        Yes, the Flyers would be 3rd, but still out of the playoffs with 37 pts. Phillyphanatic, how are you going to call the SE division a joke, when the Flyers still wouldnt qualify for the playoffs?

      • phillyphanatic77 - Apr 12, 2013 at 9:47 AM

        Because when I wrote that hypothetical the Flyers still could’ve had a shot at the Southeast. When the teams in your division can get to the 3rd seed much easier than the 8th seed, the division is a joke. They will have ONE playoff representative, while the other two divisions will have atleast 3. And it’s been like that for several years. The Atlantic had 4 last season and the Northeast will have 4 (most likely) this year. That is absurd. And I just included the Flyers to show that as terribly as they’ve played they’d still have a shot if they were in the Southeast division.

      • blackfoot11 - Apr 12, 2013 at 10:14 AM

        The NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB…i could go on.. have this same issue. It is what it is. You are only complaining b/c its not your team. Terrible division or not the Caps are leading the division. To address your stat about one playoff team coming from the SE division for the past “several” years, it has happened twice in the last five years (’08 &’10), the other three seasons the SE have sent two. Now go wake up Bryz.

  5. operwapitsai - Apr 11, 2013 at 5:54 PM

    well could you give them any credit at least? how about mentioning Ovis resurgence and recent dominance instead of summing up their success to simply playing bad teams…

  6. blackfoot11 - Apr 11, 2013 at 10:25 PM

    Another great win tonight. Holtby was great once again, and the Caps keep the points train rolling.

  7. mp1113 - Apr 11, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    Wait? Is it the caps fault they’re in that division? Oh wait it’s not. And they’re continuing to murder it again. Sorry about that. Let the haters hate. Everyone loves to hate the caps and Ovechkin.

    • phlyerzpwnu - Apr 11, 2013 at 11:29 PM

      Everyone loves to hate the caps and ovi…especially Caps fans themselves. not sure i have ever seen a more fickle fan base. all season we have heard, fire gmgm, take away the C…trade Ovi. where the hell is backstrom?! Ribeiro is our best player…blah blah blah. So go ahead, jump back on, there are plenty of seats

      • blackfoot11 - Apr 11, 2013 at 11:47 PM

        I have nothing against the Flyers, but you as a Flyer fan are posting on a Caps article hating b/c my team has overcome adversity to make a success of a short season. Go focus on the Flyers issues and stop attempting to run the Caps fan base in the mud b/c your team has fallen short. Go Caps!

      • phlyerzpwnu - Apr 12, 2013 at 5:19 PM

        Not hating on your team because they have overcome adversity, I think that is great of them! Good job! I am hating on their fans, because they say the dumbest stuff. Flyers suck right now, have sucked all season…They really need some leadership in the locker room and its obvious that guys like Pronger and Jagr are missed.

  8. bethgoesglobal - Apr 11, 2013 at 11:05 PM

    Why does no one ever mention the NW division in these debates. Now granted the Wild have played well this season so the division is stronger this season but last year I’d argue the SE was better than the NW. Vancouver has been destroying those teams for years and while they are a very good team they didn’t have to be to make the playoffs. So what makes the NW that much better then the SE?? I’m just glad this is the last year we’ll have to hear about this. Next season will continue to succeed because they are a GOOD team (may not win the division but they’ll be up there) and the haters will just have to eat their words. (don’t worry- I’m sure plenty of Caps fans will be sure to bring this up and remind those with short-term memory loss)

  9. bmoreredfury311 - Apr 12, 2013 at 7:15 AM

    Last time i check, every team has to play the same amount of teams and games. You can not dis-credit a team for the division they play in, it wasn’t there choice. Pen and flyer fans better ware out this excuse or w/e they want to call it, because they cant use it next year. GO CAPS!

    • jpelle82 - Apr 12, 2013 at 9:20 AM

      you’re right…the “excuse” will be gone next year. cant wait

  10. rg3isvictory - Apr 13, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    DC is already an amazon place to live, so when you add the fact that the Caps are playing well, the Skins turned things around and the Nationals should be contending for the World Series this season, it’s all the more amazing!!! There is a reason so many people migrate to this area, their hometowns are lacking! Outside of NYC, DC is the Power City of the USA! Love it.

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